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Psychology of Language

Psychology of Language
A Critical Introduction

April 1996 | 224 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
A comprehensive textbook, Psychology of Language examines both the formal/structural aspects of linguistics and psycholinguistics and the concerns of sociolinguistics, conversation analysis, and social semiotics. In a clear and lively presentation, author Michael A. Forrester discusses three levels of communication:
  • Thinking, the cognitive processes of self-communication
  • Talk, with an emphasis on everyday conversational behavior
  • Text, including the study of reading and writing

Within these areas, Forrester introduces a wide range of subjects, from language structure, semantics, and deixis to conversation, power relations in language, interpretation, and postmodern psychology.

Thorough and informative, Psychology of Language provides students of linguistics, sociolinguistics, rhetoric, and social psychology with a critical overview that integrates diverse themes.

Language Structure and the Significance of Recursion
The Concept of Meaning

The Interface between Language and Social Interaction

Conversational Analysis and Accountability in Everyday Talk
Processes and Procedures in Conversational Interaction
Power Relations in Language
Sign Systems and Social Semiotics
The Role of the Reader in Text Interpretation
Writing and the Construction of Narrative Text
Post-Modern Psychology and Language
Discourse Analysis and Social Psychology


`Forrester's book succeeds in outlining a fuller psychology of language, one that foregroundss the communication functions of language. I hope it spurs other works of that kind' - Theory and Psychology

`An attempt to reconcile the different facets of the contemporary study of the psychology of language... this is a daring attempt to point out the diversity and lurking disintegration of the field of psychology of language...Throughout the endeavour, the suggestion is made that the psuchology of language would profit from a focus on conversation in which researchers immerse themselves into the language scene instead of looking at it from a distance...The book is appealing in its attempt to approach the psychology of language from a wide range of often controversial viewpoints...Forrester's book is a book of reflection. The work constitutes a nice addition to the alternative book library of the advanced graduate student or academic' - Contemporary Psychology

`Forrester's book provides an account not of the field of psycholinguistics as traditionally conceived, but rather of the author's vision for its future development... Forrester argues that traditional psycholinguistics, having been dominated by cognitivism and structuralism, has little to offer to those who aim to understand language as communication. To rectify this, the psychology of language should extend its domain of inquiry and become more closely integrated with alternative approaches to the study of language, both from other areas of psychology and from other disciplines... The scope of Forrester's book is impressively wide... there is a strong emphasis throughout on the philosophy, history and sociology of science... His book can be likened to a large-scale map with a few inset boxes containing smaller-scale plans - designed for the traveller who is considering going to neighbouring lands and wants to get a flavour of what it will be like there. For this reason, the book is well suited to senior undergraduates, postgraduates and researchers, particularly those who already have a sound knowledge of one field of language study and are interested in exploring allied fields. Such readers will be likely to find Forrester's book a thought-provoking, challenging introduction to alternative theoretical and methodological approaches. It would, for example, make an excellent resource for discussion in honours tutorials/seminars... Forrester presents a persuasive case for the need to integrate diverse approaches to the study of language, and he successfully highlights many of the gaps and potential conflicts between these' - British Journal of Psychology

This is an interesting book which in my opinion is well written and informative. With an interest in Cognition I found aspects of the book particularly interesting and in general found the book was easy to follow. This book has particular sections which in my opinion will benefit my teaching practice as well as provide my students with a valuable and accurate source of information. I have recommended it.

Mrs Kerry Noble
Education Department, Doncaster College
March 28, 2014

I will reccomend this book, mainly the chapter on the conversation analysis and the aspects related to power relations in language.

Dr Manuel Sanchez Cano
Psychology , University of Vic
June 3, 2011

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